Irish firm’s cutting-edge pet drugs have potential for human use

Waterford-based TriviumVet is raising more than €5 million in the next month to launch new treatments for cats and dogs, which have the potential to also treat people

Louise Grubb, chief executive of Trivium Vet: ‘The actual disease of HCM in cats is a model of what it’s like in humans, for which there isn’t a very effective treatment.’ Picture: Colin Shanahan

An Irish veterinary company expects to close a funding round worth more than €5 million in the next month as part of its plan to launch a number of cutting-edge therapeutics for the treatment of cats and dogs.

TriviumVet, which is headquartered in Co Waterford, has developed treatments for illnesses including cardiac disease in both cats and dogs, as well as gastric ulcers in dogs.

The company was founded in 2015 by Louise Grubb, who previously founded pharma storage company Q1 Scientific, as well as Tom Brennan, whose EirGen Pharma was bought by Opko Health in 2015 for around €120 million.

TriviumVet plans to launch a new drug, Felycin, in the next year, following regulatory approval in the US and Europe. Felycin is designed to treat a condition called feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), which causes the muscle walls of a cat’s heart to thicken.

But the company has even bigger plans, having realised that some of its drugs might not only help animals but also humans with HCM.

“The actual disease of HCM in cats is a model of what it’s like in humans, for which there isn’t a very effective treatment,” Grubb said.

“So now we’re looking at going the other way, and saying: ‘Well, these drugs actually have potential in the human sphere, so we’re trying to see if we can leverage the clinical studies we’ve done in dogs and cats and see if we can use that for human projects.”

Felycin isn’t the only one of TriviumVet’s projects the company believes can help treat humans as well as animals. In the US, the company is engaged in a research project that examines how dogs age. As part of that, it is exploring if drugs it has developed can be used to mitigate against age-related diseases in humans such as cardiac disease, dementia and diabetes.

“We’ve . . . really valuable research done in dogs and cats, and we think we can use that to help in the human sphere,” Grubb said.

‘Plug that gap’

TriviumVet, which has backing from Enterprise Ireland and employs 12 people, did not initially intend to move into the sphere of human healthcare, Grubb said. The original plan – which still stands today, and is developing all the time – was to examine diseases in cats and dogs for which there was no effective treatment, and to plug that gap.

“We set out by saying: ‘What treatments are there in the human field, that if we do the proper research, we can use to treat dogs and cats who have these conditions for which there aren’t treatments?’,” Grubb said. “And we did that successfully across a number of diseases.

“But as we were developing the drugs in these specific areas, we were getting such good results that we realised the work we were doing has applicability as early-stage research for people.”

“We feel we’re pioneering in that we’re developing drugs for dogs and cats, so they benefit from it as well.”

TriviumVet will launch its first veterinary drug in the US next year, and aims to use the funding round to commercialise the product.

“But we also want to use that money to take the work we’re doing a little bit further from the vet space, and look at where we go next into human development,” Grubb said. “It’s about keeping the momentum going, and going even faster.”